Monday, 29 September 2008

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THANET



This is Robin Bolton, Chairman of CGP. Here is what he said on 31 May 2008:

" We expect to recieve a resolution to grant planning consent in the near future for Phase One of The Manston Project. Once this is received we will be able to further progress the planning documentation for the next two phases of this development".


Note, if you will, the careful choice of words he uses; not IF planning consent is received but ONCE. He is also saying that this development is a 3 Phase project! Compare this to what Doug Brown, the TDC Planning Dept Case Officer, said to KM Extra last week in respect of a recent meeting with GOSE and CGP:

" The applicants (CGP) were asked to confirm that Phase One is a stand alone project. The applicants confirmed this to be the case."

What are our Councillors to make of this contradiction?

Let me now explain what used to happen in TDC Planning Department before it dealt with CGP and this so-called 'stand alone' application on Manston Business Park.
As the problems of the nearby aquifer were well understood by all concerned, when Cummins applied to extend its buildings in 2005, it submitted detailed drainage plans for foul sewage and water run-off from hardstanding vehicle areas automatically. I am not into this technical stuff but please feel free to look at the detail in the plan below.

Not only did Cummins draw up detailed drainage plans to safe-guard the aquifer they were in very close proximity to, but they also made a statement about exactly what they were doing and I show it to you below. (Please click on to see detail).


Now we come to examine how TDC Planning Dept dealt with CGP's application only 2 years later. Go and visit http://www.ukplanning.com/ and read documents for 08/0400. CGP's run off data was not able to meet 'storm' conditions and there was no drainage detail other than a reference to Klargester cess-pits. This was added to later by pretty pictures of an on-site sewage farm but still no detailed drainage proposals. I must add here that in 2007, CGP were told that the EA would only agree to mains foul sewers! In May this year Mr Wills of CGP was being quoted in the press as saying that the Klargester systems were economic and sustainable. It was only the persistence of a few people contacting the EA and SW and badgering TDC who finally managed to get an acceptance in July from Mr Wills that 'mains sewerage' was inevitable!
So once upon a time in Thanet, we had a rigorous Planning Dept that insisted on the highest standards of diligence and duty of care in respect of our aquifer.; that was until CGP came along. Not any more it would seem. It would appear that our Councillors are going to be told on 9th Oct that we haven't got a detailed drainage plan from CGP yet but 'don't worry, we have some conditions in place'.
What is going on here? Surely we have double standards being applied in respect of sloppy plans from CGP for development on Manston Business Park. I know Doug Brown to be an honest man but what pressure is being put on him by Cabinet and Senior Officers to push this application along.?
This sheer inconsistency must be challenged and I hope our Councillors will insist that they are presented with detailed drainage plans from CGP that have been reviewed and approved by Southern Water and The Environmental Agency before they can approve this application. TDC has a legal duty of care in respect of the aquifer that cannot be derogated in law and will need to inspect and monitor the drainage on this site in perpetuity, according to Southern Water.
I think we can trust Doug Brown to do his best but is it enough? I am concerned about those above him , who are already determined to push this through , so that CGP's Chairman can confidently say " Once" and not 'IF' the application is approved.

5 comments:

Rick said...

Yes Bertie. you may know that TDC Contaminated Land Officer, Morgan Sproates, replied to my FOI request.

TDC confirmed there had been (chronic) spillage of cyclohexanone at Sericol in the 90s.

What the CLO says in reply includes this (Your point about duty in perpetuity)

"I would agree with your concerns regarding on site storage of harmful chemicals in an area where surface drainage leads directly to soakaways. Where necessary, this Dept alongside external consultees on planning applications (EG The Environment Agency) currently requests safeguarding conditions to ensure continued protection of the environment and to prevent pollution of controlled waters (including infiltration of potentially contaminated surface water drainage to any water course, land or underground strata. Dependent on the site this may be achieved via suitable impervious bases/bunding of above ground storage facilities and pipework or via inteceptors designed and constructed to have a capacity and details compatible with the site being drained. In such cases no infiltration of surface drainage into the ground would be permitted other than with the express written consent of the LPA."


You seem to have hit the nail on the head. TDC seem to be contemplating writing a regulatory nightmare cheque they just can't cash. Their decisions now could render it impossible for them to fulfill the statutory duties in future.

So is the Contaminated Land Department at TDC throwing its oar in objecting to the CGP drainage details on the planning application ? Knowing in the future they have the statutory duty to protect the water course and ground strata.

Bertie Biggles said...

I am sorry 00.43 that I have not shown your comment. Could I suggest that the serious allegations you make are submitted to Standards at TDC or to Maidstone if there is substance to them.

Matt B said...

I take it these observances have been placed on file as complaints already?

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm

Derogation of responsibilities here methinks.

Rick said...

I quote from the FOI reply referred to in my earlier post:

"To the best of his knowledge Cllr Ken Gregory does not have any recollection of being involved in due diligence examination of the Sericol incident"

TDC letter claims that Sericol reported the matter to Environment Agency.

My information is that it was reported by an anonymous letter to TDC.

I would have thought that this precedent incident should be something all the present Planning Committee should be aware of.

My interest now departs from your Water table and CGP concerns.

I am pursuing the matter of unqualified staff who may have contributed to the incident and to whether cyclohexanone had gone missing (and the spillage to ground was a cover). To that end I am in touch with Kent Police Authority and the Environment Agency. I have also written a letter to HM Coroner Rebecca Cobb.

My interest in cyclohexanone is its use to make drug pusher drugs (Angel dust) and its use in making improvised explosive devices.

My mind boggles that Police did not pursue this matter. Possession of cyclohexanone can, I think, get a person two years in some US states.